William Shakespeare: Facts and Interesting Information About The Great Elizabethan Playwright

William Shakespeare is probably the most famous writer in history. Shakespeare’s plays are read and performed all over the world, even though he wrote them during the time of the Tudors and the reign of James I.

Here are some of the key facts about William Shakespeare.

  • William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1564. It is thought that he was born on or quite close to 23rd April.

  • His father, John, was a glovemaker and he was an important and well-respected resident of Stratford, and his mother came from a wealthy farming family.
  • William probably went to the local grammar school at the age of about 7.
  • When William Shakespeare was about 13, his father experienced some money problems and got into debt. It is thought that William left school at this point in order to help his father run the family business and generate more income.
  • Very little is known about William Shakespeare until his marriage in 1582. Shakespeare wasn’t famous at this point, so he is not mentioned in any written sources from the Tudor period.
  • In 1582 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. She was the daughter of a local farmer and was eight years older than Shakespeare.
  • Anne and William had a child, called Susanna, in 1583. In 1585 they had twins, Hamnet and Judith.
  • William and Anne and their three children lived with Shakespeare’s parents in Stratford. In about 1587 Shakespeare moved to London. It is not known exactly when Shakespeare got a taste for acting, but many think he might have got to know some of the individuals involved in the scene when the Queen’s Men acting group performed in Stratford in 1586.
  • It is not known for cetain exactly when Shakespeare began writing plays, but it is thought that some his work was being performed on stage in 1591 or 1592.
  • From 1594, Shakespeare’s plays were only performed by Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later to become the King’s Men during the reign of James I), an acting company part owned by Shakespeare.
  • In 1599, members of Shakespeare’s company built the Globe Theatre, and this made William Shakespeare a very wealthy man.
  • Shakespeare bought in New Street in Stratford, the second largest house in the town.
  • William spent time in both London and the family home in Stratford.
  • The last plays written by Shakespeare were completed in 1613, in collaboration with John Fletcher, the playwright who would become the writer for the King’s Men after Shakespeare.
  • Some his best known works include: Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing and the Tempest.
  • William Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616, aged 52.. He was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon. There is a monument to Shakespeare in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Follow the links to find out more about the theatre in Elizabethan times and another Tudor playwright called Christopher Marlowe.

Click here to learn more about the Tudors.

12 Enid Blyton Facts

Here are some facts about the British children’s writer, Enid Blyton.

  • Enid Blyton was born on 11th August 1897 in East Dulwich, London.
  • Her father moved away when she was a child, and Enid Blyton had a difficult relationship with her mother. She didn’t attend either her mother’s or father’s funeral.

  • Enid Blyton went to St Christopher’s School in Beckenham – she was head girl. She enjoyed most of the lessons, except maths.
  • She went on to train as a teacher at Ipswich High School.
  • Enid Blyton’s first published book was Child Whispers. It was a book of poetry and came out in 1922 She was still working as a teacher at this point, and wrote in her spare time.
  • In August 1924, Enid Blyton married Major Hugh Alexander Pollock. He was the editor at the publishing house George Newnes, and he published some of Enid’s books.
  • Enid Blyton was an incredibly prolific writer. She produced many children’s books and series, the most fomous of which are: The Famous Five series, The Adventure series, The Mystery series, The Secret Seven series, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Noddy books, The Malory Towers series and many, many more.
  • Her books have sold more than 600 million copies.
  • Enid Blyton sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Mary Pollock.
  • Despite being a well-loved writer, it seems that Enid Blyton wasn’t a very pleasant person. She cheated on her husband, and when they were going through a divorce she tried to stop him seeing their children. Her daughter, Imogen, said Enid Blyton was “arrogant, insecure and pretentious”.
  • Enid Blyton died on 28th November 1968. She was 71 years old. She was cremated and her ashes are held at Golders Green Crematorium.
  • Enid Blyton wrote her books on a typewriter perched on her lap. She claimed that she didn’t plan her stories in advance, allowing her imagination to take her from the beginning of a book to the final scene. She was able to write 10,000 words of publishable story in one day!

What next? Learn more about other famous children’s writers.

10 Anthony Horowitz Facts

Here are ten facts about Anthony Horowitz, the English children’s novelist and screenwriter.

  • Anthony Horowitz was born on 5th April 1955 in Middlesex, England.
  • As a child he used to tell stories to his friends at boarding school. He loved Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley , and he knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of 8.

  • He has two sons, Nicholas and Cassian.
  • His first book was published in 1979. It was called The Sinister Secret of Frederick K Bower.
  • In 2000 the first of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider books was published. This was called Stormbreaker. There are nine Alex Rider books in total and Stormbreaker has been made into film.
  • Horowitz has written many scripts for television. In the 1980s, he wrote for the Robin of Sherwood series. In the 1990s he adapted several of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories. He also wrote the World War 2 TV drama, Foyle’s War.
  • His novel for adults, Mindgame, was released in 2001 and was adpted for the stage in 2008.
  • His three tips for writing fiction are: (1) Read more. (2) Write more. (3) Believe in yourself.
  • One of his favourite books is Great Exectations by Charles Dickens.
  • He listens to a lot of classical music, such as: Chopin, Benjamin Britten and Mozart.

A List of the Alex Rider Books by Anthony Horowitz

  1. Stormbreaker
  2. Point Blanc
  3. Skeleton Key
  4. Eagle Strike
  5. Scorpia
  6. Ark Angel
  7. Snakehead
  8. Crocodile Tears
  9. Scorpia Rising

What next? Learn more about other famous children’s authors.

Jeff Kinney Facts

Here are some facts about Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

  • Jeff Kinney was born on 19th February, 1971 in Fort Washington, Maryland (US)
  • He is married to Julie and has two sons, Will and Grant.

  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid started life online in 2004 and became really popular (receiving over 80 million visitors). Some of the fans wanted a print version, so Jeff Kinney released the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book in 2007.
  • Over 75 million copies of books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kids series have been sold.
  • At the time of writing, there have been 3 film versions of the books (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days)
  • As well as being an author, Jeff Kinney is also a cartoonist and online game creator. He designed the Poptropica website.
  • Jeff plays volleyball twice a week.
  • He didn’t keep a diary when he was younger, but he now writes in a journal.
  • Jeff Kinney is Cub Scout master.
  • when he started to make lots of money from the success of his books, Jeff bought the house next door to his home. He uses this as his writing space.

What next? Learn more about other important children’s authors.

15 Francesca Simon Facts

Here are twenty facts about Francesca Simon, the author of the Horrid Henry books. You’ll probably know some of this information already, but hopefully you will learn something new, too.

  • Francesca Simon was born on 23rd February 1955 in St Louis, Missouri (United States).

  • She went to Yale university in the US and Oxford in the UK. She studied Old English.
  • Francesca went on to become a journalist and wrote for the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph.
  • Francesca Simon has had more than 50 books published.
  • Her book Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman won the prize for Children’s Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards.
  • Francesca Simon has a Tibetan Spaniel called Shanti.
  • It takes about four months to write each Horrid Henry book.
  • Francesca Simon likes writing but hates starting a new piece of work. She says that her favourite part of the writing process is when she’s improving a rough draft.
  • Her favourite authors as a child were Edward Eager and Beverley Cleary.
  • Her current favourite author is Anthony Trollope.
  • Francesca’s first book was called Papa Forgot and was published in 1983.
  • She has a grown-up son called Joshua.
  • Francesca started to write books full-time in 1989.
  • She writes her books in the attic of her Victorian house in London.
  • She usually works in silence.

Check out Francesca Simon’s website, or learn more about other famous children’s authors.

10 Robert Burns Facts

Here are ten facts about Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and lyricist.

  • Robert Burns (aka Rabbie Burns) was born on 25th January 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland. Burns Night is celebrated with a Burns supper every year in Scotland (and in places all over the world) on 25th January (Burns’s birthday).

  • Burns wrote his poems in Scots, standard English and Scots dialect.
  • Robert Burns originally spelled his name ‘Burnes’.
  • Robert Burns was going to move from Scotland to Jamaica. He decided against this when sales of poetry collection Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (also known as the Kilmarnock volume) took off. He moved to Edinburgh instead, and a second edition of his poetry book was published.
  • Burns was a brilliant lyricist and he contributed over 100 songs to a book called The Melodies of Scotland. He also wrote lyrics for A Select Collection of Scottish Airs for the Voice and The Scots Musical Museum.
  • Robert Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne (he added new lyrics to a traditional Scottish tune) and A Red, Red Rose.
  • Burns was alive during the French Revolution and he was in favour of reform.
  • On 21st July 1796, Robert Burns died at the age of 37. His body lies to rest in the Burns Mausoleum in St Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries.
  • Burns Clubs, groups set up to celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns, have been founded all over the world.
  • Robert Burns was voted ‘The Greatest Scot’ by viewers of STV in 2009. He beat William Wallace, Sir Alexander Fleming and Robert the Bruce.

Rober Burns

Christopher Marlowe Facts

Here are some facts about Christopher Marlowe, the English playwright and poet who worked during the Elizabethan era.

  • Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury, probably in 1564. It is thought that he was born in the same year as William Shakespeare.

  • Marlow went to The King’s School in Canterbury and then he went to Corpus Christi College in Cambridge.
  • It is not known for certain how many plays were written by Marlowe, or the order in which they were written, but most historians would agree that Marlowe was the author of the following plays: Tamburlaine Part 1, Tamburlaine Part 2, The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus, Edward II and The Massacre at Paris.
  • Marlowe’s plays were very successful and they were often performed my the Admiral’s Men, with the actor Edward Alleyn playing the lead roles.
  • Christopher Marlowe was killed by Ingram Frizer during a fight that had developed following an argument about paying a bill. He was stabbed above his right eye.
  • Marlowe was buried in St Nicholas Church, Deptford in an unmarked grave on 1st June 1593.
  • Some people believe that Christopher Marlowe was a spy (working for Sir Francis Walsingham), and that his death was an assassination and not just a dispute that got out of hand.
  • Others think that Christopher Marlowe faked his death, changed his name to William Shakespeare and continued to write plays. However, most academics don’t believe that Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare are one and the same.
  • We will probably never know the exact details of Marlowe’s death because the chance of discovering new documents or other evidence that sheds more light on the events is very slim.

Learn more about Elizabethan theatre, or have a look at our Tudor resources page.

10 Facts About Valerie Bloom and Her Poems

Here are ten facts about Valerie Bloom, the poet and children’s writer.

Some of these facts you might know already, but hopefully some of them will be new to you.

  • Valerie Bloom was born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1956. She had eight brothers and sisters.

  • Valerie had written lots of stories when she was a child, but only started writing poetry when she was a teenager. She had her first poem published when she was just eighteen years old.
  • She moved to England in 1979 and went to the University of Kent, Canterbury.
  • Valerie has had many collections of her poems published. One of her favourites is called Fruit – a counting poem for younger children that includes the names of some of the Caribbean fruits.
  • Many of Valerie’s poems are influenced by her Caribbean origins. She writes in English, but she often includes Jamaican patois, too.
  • Valerie writes the first drafts of her poems very quickly in pen. She edits and shapes them and then types the final version on a computer.
  • Her poems have appeared in over 100 anthologies.
  • Valerie Bloom’s performances of her poetry are really popular. She has read her work on TV and radio many times.
  • She was made a MBE in 2008.
  • Valerie doesn’t just write poems. She also writes novels. Her first published novel was called Surprising Joy.

Charles Dickens: Interesting Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about the Victorian writer, Charles Dickens, the author of many classic novels, including, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Often described as the ‘quintessential Victorian author’, Dickens’s stories are enjoyed just as much today as they were by his nineteenth century readership.

  • Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth.

  • Charles Dickens came from a poor family, but he was lucky enough to attend school.
  • Unfortunately, after his father was jailed for having ‘bad debts’, Charles Dickens was forced to leave school and start work in a blacking factory (a boot polish factory). He worked there for three years. The conditions were very poor and Charles Dickens suffered from loneliness.
  • Dickens started to write as a journalist. He contributed articles to journals called The Mirror of Parliament and The True Sun.
  • In 1833 he was employed as the parliamentary reporter for The Morning Chronicle newspaper. He also started to produce a series of sketches. He called himself Boz when he published these.
  • In 1836 Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth. She was the daughter of one of his editors, George Hogarth.
  • Later in 1836, a story by Dickens, The Pickwick Papers was published as a serial. This proved to be very popular and Dickens started to become famous.
  • Charles Dickens went on to produce a massive amount of material during his lifetime. He published fifteen novels, wrote hundreds of short stories and non-fiction pieces, lectured and performed both in England and in the United States, wrote plays, wrote thousands of letters and edited two journals.
  • After having ten children together, Charles Dickens and Catherine Hogarth separated in 1858. Dickens then had a relationship with Ellen Ternan, an actress.
  • Dickens was interested in the paranormal. He was a member of The Ghost Club.
  • In 1865 Charles Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst Rail Crash. His was the only first class carriage to avoid running off the tracks. Apparently, Dickens helped many of the wounded passengers before rescuers arrived.
  •  Charles Dickens died on 9th June 1870. He suffered a stroke after completing a full day’s work on his novel in progress, Edwin Drood. He was buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.
  • Charles Dickens has appeared on the British £10 note.

Charles Dickens £10 note

 

The Novels of Charles Dickens

Here is a list of the novels written by Charles Dickens. Many of these were first published as a serial – the stories came out chapter by chapter (just like the episodes of a television series).

  • The Pickwick Papers
  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
  • The Chimes
  • The Cricket on the Hearth
  • The Battle of Life
  • Dombey and Son
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain
  • David Copperfield
  • Bleak House
  • Hard Times: For These Times
  • Little Dorrit
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Great Expectations
  • Our Mutual Friend
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood (never completed by Dickens)

Charles Dickens

Click here to visit the Primary Facts page on Famous Victorians.

Lewis Carroll Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland.

  • Lewis Carroll’s real name is Charles Dodgson. He used the name Lewis Carroll when he was writing his children’s books and composing his poems.

  • He was born in 1832 and died in 1898.
  • Lewis Carroll was a teacher of maths at Oxford University.
  • Lewis Carroll was one of eleven children. When he was growing up, he often spent time playing literary games with his brothers and sisters.
  • He was also very keen on drawing as a child.
  • Lewis Carroll often used to take the three daughters of his friend, Dean Liddell, for days out and boat trips on the river. It was on one of these trips that he first told the story that became Alice in Wonderland. The story was first published in 1865.
  • Carroll wrote another Alice book. This one was called Alice Through the Looking Glass and it was published in 1865.
  • As well as writing children’s books, Lewis Carroll also enjoyed writing poetry, and he was a keen letter writer.
  • Lewis Carroll produced several works about mathematics when he was working at Oxford University, and he invented the Carroll Diagram (sometimes known as the Lewis Carroll Square), a method of grouping data which is still taught in maths lessons to today.
  • Lewis Carroll loved puzzles and games. He was a very keen chess player, and there are lots of references to chess (and other games) in his books for children.

Lewis Carroll

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